Justice Chinyere Ani of the Enugu State High Court has awarded the sum of N225 million to Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited, Enugu against a new generation bank and sentenced its manager to eight years imprisonment.
The convict, Oliver Anidiobi, who was a manager in one of its branches in Enugu, defrauded Ohha Microfinance bank of the sum of N219 million by issuing it with fake “Fixed Deposit Certificates.”
The convict was said to have “stolen and converted to personal use”, the sum of N219 million depositors funds, which Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited Enugu, kept in a fixed deposit account with the bank.”
As a result, the court convicted him, sentenced him to eight years in Enugu prison and awarded damages against the bank.
Ohha Microfinance Bank through its counsel, Olu Omotayo had filed a suit against the defendant on October 3, 2019, marked E/857/2019, claiming N600 million, representing damages for breach of contract against the defendant.
N300 million of the claim represents N138,900, 838.89 for the first fixed deposit and also the accumulated interest and also N80,134,062.61, for the second fixed deposit and also the accumulated interest on it.
In response, the bank argued through its counsel, O.J. Uchenna that it was not bound by the acts of its manager and denied having any of the fixed deposits of the plaintiff on its record and that the manager lacked authority to act for it in that regard.
The court, in over one hour judgment agreed with the submission of the plaintiff that the fixed deposit certificates given to Ohha Microfinance Bank by the defendant were authentic because the convict was the manager of the defendants branch at the time, adding that “official activity of an agent of the bank is binding on it.”
The court further held that in the statement of the convict to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which was admitted in evidence, he agreed to have collected the sum of N219 million from Ohha Bank and issued certificates he forged.
It added that he had full authority to deal with customers and that the transaction was lawful as he acted within the course of his work and the plaintiff trusted him and relied on him as its bank manager.
The judge held: “There will be chaos in the system if customers cannot rely on representation of a bank manager in the course of banking transactions.”
The court therefore awarded the sum of N225 million as damages to the Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited and sent the manager to prison.